Grey’s Anatomy has always had a large cast, but some of their best episodes are those that center around just a few of them.
All of the cast is great, but…
The cast of Grey’s Anatomy is quite talented, but there is also quite a lot of them! Ellen Pompeo (Meredith), Justin Chambers (Alex), Chandra Wilson (Bailey), James Pickens Jr. (Weber), Kevin McKidd (Owen), Jessica Capshaw (Arizona), Sarah Drew (April), Jesse Williams (Jackson), Camilla Luddington (Jo), Jerrika Hinton (Stephanie), Caterina Scorsone (Amelia), Kelly McCreary (Maggie), Jason George (Ben), Martin Henderson (Riggs), Giacomo Gianniotti (DeLuca) all appear on the show regularly. In addition to this, there are other characters that appear less often.
Because of the sheer number of them, it’s difficult for all of them to have their storylines featured on the show every episode. This means that it’s pretty normal for some characters not to appear in any given episode. Which means that we miss out from what’s going on with them.
Storylines often get dragged out
Again, due to the size of the cast, storylines will often get dragged out. Instead of being resolved after a few episodes, they may last a whole season. There simply isn’t enough time in the episodes to get to everyone’s storyline, which leaves the fans unsatisfied.
A prime example of this is Jackson and April’s storyline. Their character arcs are often stretched out, sometimes to a painful extent, because they only pop into episodes for a small amount of time. The beauty about the Japril centric episode that aired in season 12, was that fans got a resolution to the question about whether or not the couple was going to save their marriage and their reasonings all in one episode.
We really get to dig into the storyline
When the whole cast is involved in the episode, we only get to touch on one or two major things going on at the hospital and a few other storylines. This means that sometimes, fans only get to skim the surface of certain storylines. Surely the main storyline suffers too because there’s only so much that can be crammed into an hour.
Rather when the episodes focus on just a few characters, we get to go deeper than the surface and learn a lot more about what’s going on. Going back to the Japril centric episode in season 12, there was a lot of backstory fans didn’t get to see before. It explained a lot to fans about the way the characters were acting and made everything make a whole lot more sense. It also allowed fans to see some touching moments that may have been cut before.
In the mid-season 13 premiere, the episode wasn’t so much about filling fans in on a storyline. However, it did allow the writers to completely focus on what was going on with Bailey, Jo, and Arizona at the prison. If they had to include what was also going on at Grey Sloan Memorial hospital there’s no way the story would have been as compelling. It’s one of the more successful episodes, in my opinion, simply because there was enough time devoted to the story for it to be fully fleshed out.
This doesn’t mean that Grey’s Anatomy’s usual story telling is awful. It’s been a hit show for years, and there’s something to be said about its ability to keep fans interested. However, there have definitely been times when the show suffered from having to balance so many characters. There’s certainly something to be said about Shonda Rhimes decision to try and focus more on the original characters this season. The more time we get with a character, the better we connect with them, and the more we want to learn about them.
Fans learn aspects about the characters that were missing
Often times, fans only get to see one facet of a character depending on their storyline. It’s hard for writers to display all sides to the story when they’re limited on time. We get shown what’s the most important to move the story forward.
For a long time that meant seeing a Jackson that we thought was being a total ass to April for no reason. It wasn’t until their backstory was filled in with their centric episode that it all started to make sense when fans saw the other sides of him too. April and Jackson are stuck in a similar situation again. There story has been in limbo for a while as they raise a daughter together, clearly need to make a move in their relationship, but there hasn’t really been enough time to give justice to their story.
Similarly, in the Grey’s Anatomy mid-season 13 premiere it was a bit shocking to see a different side to Bailey. For so long fans have been used to seeing her a certain way on the show. It seems like she’s always there for those around her that it was odd to see how judgemental she was towards the prisoners. It wasn’t until she was taken outside of her element, and typical storyline, that fans got to see a new side to her. Honestly, it was refreshing to learn something new about Bailey after so long.